Q & A with Paula Mattocks

Paula joined WomanCraft in 1974


What attracted you to join WomanCraft?

I had been in Chapel Hill about 6 months when a woman who was orienting me to a new job found out that I sewed. She was a quilter and had heard about this new co-op that had just started up. She suggested that I join. I had sewn since I was in grade school and had made and sold granny dresses to the girls on my floor at college. So, I joined the co-op and found a community of creative women of all ages and from all walks of life. We all wanted to create and sell our crafts. There were women who sewed, like me, but there were also painters and potters, quilters and weavers, those who made macramé and those who made pickles. It was very loosely organized without any restrictions on what you could bring in. The quality of the work was very uneven. Some members were accomplished artists and some were just beginning to develop their talents. All were welcome. Most had not sold their work before or had only sold it at church bazaars.

What were some of the first pieces you made as a member?

I think I did embroidery, crewel and needlepoint at first, then started making baby quilts, flannel blankets, and crocheted hats and scarves.

Do you make any of these pieces today?

I still make the flannel blankets with appliques, and have recently resumed doing embroidery, mostly on felt ornaments for the holidays.

Any favorite memories or stories?

I still remember several of the members who have passed on.

One day in the late 70’s, a young man came by the store to see if we would buy the quilt his mother had sent to him. He needed money for school. My partner, an older woman (probably all of 40 to my 20-something self) and was a farm wife, lifted up her skirt and pulled 4 $100 bills out of the top of her stocking and bought the quilt without batting an eye. The quilt was exquisite and well worth that amount.

One time we had a truly outstanding quilt that one of our quilters had made. She had priced it at $1600, the most expensive piece of work we had ever had in the store. A smartly dressed woman came and bought it. She explained that she was a decorator and would take it to NYC and resell it for 4 times what she had paid for it.

Another time a man came in and asked for Edna. She was not working that day, but the man explained that he traveled for business and had bought the pickles she made during his last trip to Chapel Hill. He lived in Atlanta and had liked them enough to swing by on his way north to see if he could get some more of those pickles! I called Edna and she drove into town and brought him several jars of pickles.

We often brought our babies with us and they played in the playpen in the middle of the store.  

Being located in a college town, the store has always had a high turnover of members. I often joked that women would join just long enough to figure out how to make a quality product and how to market it, then leave. We taught a lot of women how to be entrepreneurs. Which, I guess, fulfilled our mission.

Learn more about Paula and explore a sampling of her products here.